Mitchell Reports | May 09, 2012
>>> how richard mourdock defined bipartisanship to chuck todd this morning on "the daily rundown."
>> bipartisanship ought to consist of democrats coming to the republican point of view. we entered this campaign wanting to be a voice and hoping to give more of a national voice to the idea that republicans and more specifically, conservatives, would be in the majority of the united states senate and the house, and hopefully, that we have a republican in the white house . if we do that, bipartisanship means they have to come our way. to me, the highlight of politics, frankly, is to inflict my opinion on someone else on a microphone or in front of a camera to win them over to my point of view.
>> inflict my opinion on someone else . joining me now, former new jersey senator bill bradley , managing director of allen & company and author of "we can all do better," available in stores and online now. senator, so great to see you again. when you left the senate in 1996 , it seemed as though you were breaking new ground. you were saying this place doesn't work. how much worse is it today? let me just put it out there. dick lugar , i've known him since he was mayor of indianapolis. we think back to the philippines, to ferdinand marco, the role he took in apartheid, moving the reagan administration in different directions, non-proliferatin non-proliferation. now he's being punished, partly for not living in his state or having a home address and driver's license and all of that. but he's being punished for working across the aisle.
>> i think it's a great loss for the country. i think dick lugar was one of the finest senators that i served with in my 18 years in the united states senate . and i think it indicates the further radicalization of the republican party . if there's no place in the republican party for dick lugar , then i personally think that you're going to see a real change in the politics of our time. for example, if you -- there are times in american history where political points of view are irreconcilable, such as right before the civil war . but usually, what happens is one of three things -- either you wipe the floor with the other party, you get a dominant majority, or you have a close majority, and that's when bipartisanship takes place if you want to make things happen. that was my 18 years in the united states senate . or there's an emergence of a third party. and i personally think that the american people are so upset by lack of progress, on what happens to middle-income families and their income, on the deficit and on the foreign wars that we seem to be in constantly, that there could be the emergence of a congressional third party, not a presidential, not a nader and a perot, but a congressional third party dedicated to three or four objectives. they win 20 seats, they're at the fulcrom of power, they make trades, and the agenda of the american people will be addressed by them essentially shaking up this process.
>> you are the person who helped shape the great compromise on tax reform in 1986 between ronald reagan and tip o'neill, a bipartisan compromise, the most sweeping tax reform . it took years of work, really, to get it done. but you're talking about the possibility of a third party or independents. joe lieberman , whom we're going to interview in a few moments, is leaving the senate. and we have olympia snowe leaving the senate. you've got people who are more inclined to work across the aisle actually being driven out.
>> yeah, but see, this is not going to happen with a few senators or congresspeople.
>> it has to be a larger movement.
>> this has got to be a citizen monkment. if you look at anything that's happened in america of significance, whether it's the abolitionist or the suffrages or the civil rights workers or the environmentaliss environmentalists, it started with one person and then 10, then 20. in the book, i analogize american democracy to the mississippi river . started with one drop, two drops, a branch, a creek, one river, three rivers, then the giant river. and that's what happens with public opinion in america . sometimes it takes long. there was a time where, for example, senators were elected by corrupt state legislators . a constitutional amendment went into effect and now they're elected by the people. i think a constitutional amendment dealing with money in politics is the next big item, because i think that there are structural problems in our democracy. one is the amount of money that's in politics, and second is the way we draw congressional district lines that increases a kind of extremist.
>> polarity. what do we do about this redistricting problem? because it's done now increasingly in state legislatures who are really one party.
>> well, i think california has a very interesting approach. let's give it to a citizen commission. i think it should be requiring districts to be as contiguous as possible so you don't have these spaghetti districts. but i'm in a 60/40 district. i don't even have to listen to republicans. identify got to worry about a challenge on my left. same for republicans, a challenge on the right. and the fact of the matter is, there's a tea party now. so the challenge is on the right. if you think about the tea party , as i talk about in the book, the tea party had a very specific objective -- roll back government. you heard that from senator-elect mourdock today. roll back government. and it made a decision, electoral involvement, win seats. they won 43 congressional seats in 2010 . so when barack obama and john boehner got an agreement in principal for a $3 trillion deficit reduction package, it was the 43 tea party republicans in the republican caucus that prevented that from happening and brought this country to the brink of bankruptcy. that's how quickly things can change. people say it never changes? it already has changed in the last three years. you've had a radicalization of the republican party .
>> we had a debate over a debt ceiling which had never been debated and practically brought the country to its knees.
>> well, it always is debated and there are a few people who demagogue it and get their votes and they go home, but it always passed with bipartisan support. and you contrast occupy, however, with tea party with occu occupy. occupy had a great slogan, we're the 99%, and they called attention to an important issue, income inequality , but they had no specific legislative objective and they chose not to get into politics, not to affect congressional or senate races. and that meant they chose not to have their hands on the levers of power. so in this kind of situation, you see the tea party is active and is making a difference for their constituents. and the thing to remember is what happened in the 1960s . in the 1960s , you had dr. martin luther king jr ., who had the dream, had the moral force and moved the civil rights agenda. but you needed a lyndon johnson who knew how to pull the levers of power in order to make that a reality permanently in america .
>> perfect segue. of course, we're introducing robert caro later this hour, so thank you so much. great to see you again, senator.
>> great to be with you.